WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn83 )

Continuities, reconfigurations, and reinterpretations: The everyday lives of African post-socialisms

Organizers

    Nina Haberland

    Germany

    Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna

    Online - Presence

    Kelly Askew

    United States of America

    Departments of Anthropology and Afroamerican & African Studies, University of Michigan

    Online - Presence

    Richard Faustine Sambaiga

    Tanzania

    College of Social Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam

    Online - Presence

Keywords:

African postsocialism, continuities, everyday life, memory, ethnography

Abstract:

Compared to formerly socialist countries in Eastern and Central Europe, African post-socialism has long been a neglected topic and most studies that emerged after the demise of socialist eras in countries like Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, or the Republic of Congo focused on neo-liberal transformations, democracy building, decentralization programs, the introduction of multi-party systems, or the emergence of a civil society. In response to calls to also pay attention to the legacies of socialism in African contexts (Pitcher/Askew 2006; West/Raman 2010) several accounts emerged in recent years which focus on the continuous authority of former single parties (Campbell 2010; Sumich 2021), the evocation of socialist metaphors (Eaton 2006) and language (Monson 2009), memory (Kamat 2008; Askew 2006), and forgetting (Pitcher 2006). Still, despite these important accounts African post-socialism remains a marginalized topic in anthropology and is often treated as more of an afterthought. As a result, very little is known about the continuities of post-socialism in the everyday lives of former African socialist countries which is why this panel seeks to reopen this important discussion and to explore the everyday lives of African post-socialism(s). The panel invites contributions that shed light on (though not exclusively): - the ways in which socialist ideas continue to inform people’s everyday life practices; - reformulations of socialist ideas in regard to belonging, national identity, and the relationship between citizens and the state; - the reconfigurations of former key figures (e.g. in local governments) and associations (e.g. women’s or elderly associations); - and the role of memory as a form of contemporary critique. In addition, this panel welcomes contributions that address the often short but crucial period between post-independence and pre-socialism (see Gez et al. 2022), question the ‘post’ in post-socialism (see Chari/Verdery 2009) and ideas of unilinear transitions as well as accounts that bring together the legacies of colonialism and socialism in contemporary post-socialist states (see West 2010).